The Old Shepherd is a Bohemian. At the age of 67, searching for sheep, he comes across the baby Perdita and adopts her.
Thanks the gold that was left with her, he becomes the richest man of his district. He has a crusty old man’s opinion of teenage boys. Likewise, he chides the 16 year-old Perdita for not being as good a Queen of the Feast as his late wife was. He is hospitable, readily welcoming strangers to his house as a way to make new friends. He approves of Doricles as a husband for his daughter, and tells all and sundry that he’ll get a remarkable dowry for her; indeed, he promises him as much as Doricles himself will bring to the wedding. He is floored by the revelation that Doricles is in fact Prince Florizel; his reaction is such that it worries Camillo that he may die. In terror that he will be hanged, he resolves to tell the Polixenes how he found Perdita, and present all the evidence that she is not, in fact, his daughter. Accepting Autolycus’s offer of mediating, he finds himself shipped to Sicily, where he is confronted by Polixenes. He attempts to tell the King what he knows, though the latter refuses to hear and threatens him with a variety of methods of execution. Upon Leontes’s arrival, he is finally able to tell his story, and the kings are so overjoyed that Polixenes ennobles him.